Against the Grain
Almond flour provides a tasty, nutritious option for the gluten-conscious cook.
The relatives are coming, and you find yourself in the same old quandry: Someone among your nearest and dearest (maybe even you) can’t tolerate gluten, the protein in wheat and other grains that can make those who are sensitive to it miserable. But you love—love—to bake. So you want to put a homemade dessert on the table that will please everyone including fussy old Uncle Edgar, who doesn’t quite get the whole gluten-free thing.
Consider your problem solved. The pear crisp in this recipe uses almond flour, which “is smooth and has excellent mouth feel,” according to Elana Amsterdam, cooking teacher and author of The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Celestial Arts). Gluten-intolerant herself, Amsterdam commends almond flour for being “as easy to use as wheat flour and much less tedious than complex gluten-free flours, which require numerous supplemental ingredients” to make them workable. And almond flour’s sweet, rich taste can make you forget you’re eating something that’s good for you.
A lack of gluten isn’t the only point in favor of almond flour, which also provides all of the health attributes—high protein, good fats and abundant micronutrients—of the whole nut. What’s more, Amsterdam says that almond flour helps stabilize glucose, making it “the ideal fare for diabetics and those who experience difficulty metabolizing sugar.”
Almond flour makes gluten-free baking easier. And the taste may even impress Uncle Edgar.
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
5 medium pears: peeled, cored, sliced 1/4” thick
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. To make the filling, whisk together the apple and lemon juices,
arrowroot and nutmeg in a small bowl. Place the pears in another bowl, toss with the juice
mixture and transfer to an 8” square baking dish.
2. To make the topping, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract.
Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until coarsely blended and crumbly.
3. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the juices bubble. Let the crisp cool for 30 minutes, then serve warm.
Serves 8. Analysis per serving: 336 calories, 5.5g protein, 19g fat (1.6g saturated),
7.25g fiber, 40g carbohydrate, 119 mg sodium
Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook: Breakfasts, Entrées, and More. Copyright © 2009 by Elana Amsterdam, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo Credit: Annabelle Breakey.